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Dalton Police Department Budgets for a Detective Position

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires.com
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DALTON, Mass.—The Police Department is budgeting for a detective position for fiscal year 2025. 
 
Police Chief Deanna Strout attended the Select Board meeting last week to present the department's proposed budget, which is projected to increase 2.96 percent, bringing it to $1,540,255.
 
The salaries budget is increasing 2.39 percent because of contractual increases and an 8 percent specialty assignment pay.
 
The specialty assignment pay was budgeted to cover the salary increase for one of the current officers who will receive training to become a detective. 
 
"We're pretty much the only department our size without a detective or investigator…We're not adding an additional officer but when we get the next one out of the academy we're just going to do a little staffing transition and have one person be in that role," Strout said. 
 
In 2022, the department had 306 investigations and 106 arrests. In 2023, this increased to 353 investigations and 125 criminal charges. Since the first of the year, the department is already at 21 arrests and 42 investigations, she said.
 
"So, we are swamped. I mean, just our numbers are through the roof," Strout said. "Not necessarily because we're a high criminal community, it's just we have a very proactive group of officers that are doing a lot of work proactively, so we're seeing a significant increase in drunk driving arrests, domestic violence, which we're called to but a lot of investigations are taking place,"
 
"My reason for [8 percent specialty assignment pay] is to streamline our response because, depending on what shift someone comes in with something, you have officers with different levels of training, different levels of investigative experience, and this way we would be able to make it just a better service to someone in need in our community."
 
This is not a new full time equivalent; a current officer will be promoted into that role. 
 
"If our call volume keeps increasing the way it is, we may have a different conversation next year, but I think we had over 15,000 calls for service last year, which is a lot for a smaller department," Strout said. 
 
This is the only new addition to the salary line. The remaining salary increases were contractual step increases.
 
The department’s expenses budget is increasing 7.12 percent. Factors for this increase include funding for the installation of a live scan fingerprint machine, which the department got for free from the state, and an increase in the annual software support. 
 
In FY 23, The department applied to a number of grants amounting to $520,804.04 and was approved for $153,610.04. 
 
"[Police Department Administrative Assistant Rebecca Whitaker] and I work a lot on grants, try to get any free money we can," Strout said. 
 
Board members commended Strout and Police Department Administrative Assistant Rebecca Whitaker for their work on the budget and did not express any concerns. 
 
The police budget saw hefty increases the last two years due to rising costs of supplies and salaries and to meet needs caused by the state mandates for police reform.
 
"I said the first two years were going to take us a little time to get where we need to be, and you guys were very good to us about that and now we're where we need to be," Strout said. 
 
The animal control budget is increasing 2.96 percent, bringing it to $31,553. Factors for this increase is additional funding for gasoline and contractual step increases. 
 
In January, the budget for gasoline was $240 over projection. In FY24, the Animal Control budgeted $1,000 for gasoline. This is increasing to $1,500.
 
"He's basically been placed on house arrest and not allowed to leave the station until the end of the fiscal year, which he's not super excited about, but we are over," Strout said. 
 
Select Board Vice Chair Dan Esko asked if $1,500 will be enough, and Strout said it is going to have to be. 
 
"It’s a 20 hour a week position. We really shouldn't be burning that much gas. I appreciate him wanting to drive around but it's not a patrol position so we can cut that back a little bit," she said. 
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Dalton CRA May Day Races Return May 5

Community submission
DALTON, Mass.  — The 47th annual Community Recreation Association May Day Races will be held Sunday, May 5, at Nessacus Middle School, with major sponsorship by Greylock Federal Credit Union.
 
Races include 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer, the Obstacles & Popsicles kids’ races for ages 8 and under, and a 1-mile Splatter Sprint for ages 8 and up, all with chip timing by Berkshire Running Center, along with an untimed fun walk.
 
The 5K road/trail race, 10K road race and fun walk begin at 9 a.m. The Obstacles & Popsicles races begin at 10 a.m., with the Splatter Sprint immediately following.
 
The first 100 runners to register (combined 5K/10K) will receive a long-sleeve wicking T-shirt. Every participant in the Obstacles & Popsicles kids’ races will receive a ribbon and freeze pop at the finish line. All proceeds benefit nonprofit CRA and Dalton Youth Center programs.
 
For more information or to register, visit www.daltoncra.org or contact the CRA at 413-684-0260. Online registration is also available at berkshirerunningcenter.com.
 
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